The USC women’s soccer team looks to build off a big win as they prepare to continue their homestand and wrap up nonconference play against Florida Atlantic on Thursday and Cal State Fullerton on Sunday.
The Women of Troy (4-2-1) ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday with a decisive 5-1 win over Loyola Marymount. After only scoring one goal during the streak, USC erupted for five goals in the first half and four in the first 19 minutes to set a season-high for goals scored. Sophomore forward Katie Johnson finished with a hat trick after 19 minutes of play, with senior forward Elizabeth Eddy and senior midfielder Jordan Marada accounting for the other two goals. Junior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley earned 5 saves before being substituted with about 15 minutes left to play.
“I think in our game against LMU it was the first time that you could see we were hungry to score goals,” junior forward Jessica Musmanno said. “That’s the type of mentality we want to continue throughout the rest of our season, just doing the little things right where we were unlucky before. Hopefully the streak keeps going.”
Despite the big win over LMU, the Women of Troy dropped out of the NCAA rankings, but are still receiving votes. They entered the weekend ranked No. 23, and have been ranked as high as No. 17 this season.
USC is outscoring opponents 18-8 on the year, with Eddy leading the team with five goals. Freshman forward Kayla Mills leads the team in points (11) and assists (5), while Stanley has a .800 save percentage and 0.86 goals against average (GAA) on the season.
“Our focus is still on sharpening some of the errors we’ve made defensively that have led to goals,” coach Ali Khosroshahin said. “We create and finish opportunities for ourselves, and being able to do things a little faster, a little quicker, a bit more pressure. The team seems to be responding.”
FAU (2-4-1) is coming off a blowout in their last game, a 10-0 rout over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-7-0) on Sunday. The team finished with a school-record 40 shots (22 on goal), with midfielder Claire Emslie recording a hat trick and an assist. It was the Owls’ second straight win of the season, after being outscored 8-2 during a five-game winless streak to start the season.
It will be the first time that USC has played Florida Atlantic in the program’s history.
Esmlie’s three goals and seven points lead the team, while Taylor Sorrels and Julie Taylor have two goals each. Courtney Zwetsch has a save percentage of .750 in 9 games, with a GAA of 1.25.
“We can’t really worry about them,” Musmanno said. “We just have to be confident and shut down our defending. I think right now our defenders have been doing really well, so I have faith in our backline that they’re not going to get scored on 10 times [like Arkansas-Pine Bluff].”
Cal State Fullerton’s (3-2-2) last contest resulted in a 0-0 tie against Utah State (4-1-2). They outshot the Aggies 17-12 during the contest, but committed a staggering 27 fouls to Utah State’s 10.
USC last played Cal State Fullerton in the 2012 season opener, winning the game 3-2 on the road despite having one defender sent off with a red card. Marada had a goal and an assist in the contest.
Christina Burkenroad leads the Titans with three points on the year, while Lindsey Maricic has an .882 save percentage and 0.62 GAA on the year. The team has a more defensive mindset, outscoring opponents 5-4 and recording five shutouts on the season.
Both games kick off at 3 p.m. at McAlister Field, with USC facing off against the Owls on Thursday before taking on the Titans on Sunday. After this weekend, the team will head on the road to start conference play.
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